A lot of things happened. Here are some of the things. This is TPM’s Morning Memo. Sign up for the email version.
Speaking In Code
A keen-eyed story from the WaPo observing that some of the fringiest conspiracy theories about what happened on Jan. 6 have made it into Trump’s legal filings in his federal prosecution in DC.
Trump has been trying to rattle the cage of prosecutors (and amp up his supporters) by seeking discovery on some of the most bogus and debunked conspiracy theories around Jan. 6 — and by baselessly suggesting the government is hiding information.
Among the things Trump has sought to amplify via his legal filings:
- Rioters nicknamed by conspiracy theorists as “Fence Cutter Bulwark” and “Scaffold Commander” whom they claim are government instigators of the Capitol attack.
- Ray Epps, the Trump supporter falsely accused by conspiracists of being an undercover operative, who has pleaded guilty to a Jan. 6 related crime.
- Antifa and “informants, cooperators [and] undercover agents … involved in the assistance, planning, or encouragement” of the events of that day.
Jury Selection Underway in Trump Jan. 6 Trial?
NBC News has obtained what appears to be “pre-screening” form for potential jurors in the Jan. 6 election interference trial in DC.
What matches up? The form seeks information about potential jurors’ availability to appear Feb. 9 to complete a written questionnaire for a trial set to start March 4 and last three months (not including jury selection).
If Trump Wins
The Atlantic devotes an entire issue to what a second Trump term would look like. A sampling:
- Barton Gellman: How Trump Gets Away With It
- David Frum: The Danger Ahead
- Franklin Foer: Donald Trump and his cronies left his first administration with a playbook for self-enrichment in a second term.
- McKay Coppins: In a second Trump term, there would be no adults in the room.
- Adam Serwer: In a second term, Donald Trump would appoint more judges who don’t care about the law.
The NYT, Too
The latest installment from the NYT in its loose series on a Trump second term: Why a Second Trump Presidency May Be More Radical Than His First
Counterpoint: Marcy Wheeler continues to bang on the NYT for not fully grasping how the first Trump impeachment, Ukraine and the bogus Biden impeachment are all connected. More on that from me below.
Why Liz Cheney Is Important
She’s not the most articulate Trump critic, she doesn’t come with the least baggage, and she no longer holds elected office or much sway in official GOP circles, but former Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) and people like her could serve as an important bridge for conservatives looking to re-enter normal, consensus-based, majority-rule politics. That’s an important function – creating and serving as a form of permission structure – for eventually bringing wayward conservatives back into the fold. I admit that “eventually” is doing a lot of work there.
Trump Gag Order In NY Trial Not Going Away
Donald Trump missed a deadline for expedited review of the gag order imposed in the New York civil fraud trial, meaning it will likely remain in place through the remainder of the trial.
Bogus Biden Impeachment Is Back On
The House GOP is gearing up its bogus Biden impeachment just in time for the 2024 campaign season. The timing is no accident of course. Here’s the latest:
- A House floor vote on impeachment could come as soon as this week.
- Joyce Vance on the revenge impeachment.
- A proper reaction:
It’s All Connected
The Biden impeachment is a direct result of the Trump effort to manufacture dirt on the Bidens in Ukraine even if it meant extorting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, which of course led to the first Trump impeachment.
The impact has been an especially egregious setback for Ukraine, which lost or at least saw serious erosion of the bipartisan support in the U.S. for its defense. The fact that Ukraine funding is now being held hostage to performative border security agita by House Republicans is just the latest manifestation of the GOP’s anti-Ukraine/pro-Russian bent, which really got kicked off by Trump’s July 2019 “perfect call” with Zelensky.
- Four candidates have qualified for Wednesday night’s GOP presidential primary debate in Tuscaloosa (which Donald Trump is again skipping): Nikki Haley, Ron DeSantis, Chris Christie, and Vivek Ramaswamy.
- WSJ: “With President Biden struggling to bring his polling numbers up, he and his fellow Democrats are sharpening their focus on a different task—pushing former President Donald Trump’s numbers down.”
- North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum (R) suspends his long-shot presidential campaign.
U.S. Ambassador Was Allegedly A Covert Agent For Cuba
Initial reporting that a former U.S. ambassador was charged with secretly acting as an agent of Cuba sounded like another run-of-the-mill lobbying-without-registering FARA case.
It IS a FARA case, but it’s hardly run of the mill, and doesn’t really involve lobbying.
The charging document unveiled Monday is much more in the vein of a classic counterintelligence investigation, alleging that former U.S. ambassador to Bolivia Manuel Rocha has served as a covert agent of Cuba’s intelligence services since 1981.
How he got caught and the self-ownage involved is a story in its own right, as TPM’s Hunter Walker reports.
Sign O’ The Times
Expelled Rep. George Santos (R-NY) is now on Cameo, and Sen. John Fetterman (D-PA) saw an opportunity to troll indicted Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ):
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